Bear Stearns was swallowed up by JPMorgan Chase nine months ago, which seems like a lifetime when you consider what's happened to the financial industry since. At the time, Bear's near collapse and rescue were stunning. Since then, the number of firms begging for cash infusions has multiplied and Bear Stearns is still happily married to JPMorgan.
But was it a good deal? Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Richard Bove doesn't think so. “JPMorgan Chase was badgered into paying $10 per share for this company which was clearly worth a negative number,” he wrote in an early November research note.
But CEO Jamie Dimon isn't kicking himself for it. JPMorgan projects it will receive over $1 billion in net income in 2009 from Bear Stearns, and Dimon says 2010 will be a comeback year for his firm.
In some circles, Bear Stearn's early collapse is seen as a blessing. “We probably would have been another Lehman Brothers and gone out of business if it'd happened [later in the year],” says one Bear advisor now at JPMorgan. “It still blows my mind that we were saved and Lehman wasn't,” says another broker.
Regardless, here we are, almost six months after Bear was gobbled up — and nearly two-thirds of the firm's brokers and about 75 percent of its assets still remain with JPMorgan. (Bear Stearns brokerage had 500 reps and $75 billion in client assets in February 2008, a month before it went under.) “I don't see any Bear guys looking around to move. There was no mass exodus because JPMorgan did a good job retaining them. They kept who they wanted to keep for the most part,” says the president of a Wall Street recruiting firm.
How'd they do it? Well, apparently, Bear Stearns is still Bear Stearns. JPMorgan always said it planned to keep the operation separate, and that still stands.
JPMorgan Chase/Bear Stearns at a Glance
Company hero: Jamie Dimon
Share price performance**: 11/20/08 price, 52-wk range:
$23, $23 - $50
Q3 net client assets, growth (decline) vs. Q208*:
$55 bn, (8%)
Q3 advisors, growth (decline) vs. Q208*:
Performance of retail unit (Q1-Q3 2008)*:
Revenues: $314 mn
Pre-tax income: N/A
Profit margins: N/A
Performance of private bank (Q1-Q3 2008)**:
Revenue: $3.0 bn
Pre-tax income: N/A
Write-downs**: $18.8 bn
Bank deposits**: $722 bn
Bank branches (combined entity): 3,203
*Bear Stearns only (Bear was acquired by JPMorgan Chase in Q208) **JPMorgan Chase only